12 digital fundraising trends for 2012 #10 Social Media Fundraising Growing-Up

After several years of amazing growth, data from Hitwise last August suggested that Facebook use was starting to slow here in the UK. Not at all surprising given that there are now around 30.25m UK users – equating to almost half of the whole country’s population signed-up to the site. So it must be approaching saturation point. Hitwise reinforced this observation with data released earlier this month showing Facebook’s share of all UK visits to social network sites falling by 7% December 2010 to December 2011, while YouTube’s share grew by roughly the same amount.

Falling market share or not, in the week that we’re due to see Facebook go public with a $10bn share offering I don’t for a moment foresee that we will see a slowdown in interest in the site any time soon. However, what I do think we will see over the next year is a growth in the maturity with which Facebook, and Social Media in general, is viewed within the fundraising world.

After five years of seemingly ever increasing fundraising expectations, I sense a change in attitude towards the role that Social Media has to play in online fundraising. A change beautifully summed-up in the slide above, from the presentation given by Beate Sørum at the International Fundraising Congress in Holland last October.

Fundraisers are increasingly coming to acknowledge that while Social Media undoubtedly does offer unique benefits that secure it a key role in online fundraising programmes it is not a “magic faucet of free cash”.

With this understanding, they are then freed from a myopic drive to “make Facebook* fundraising work” (*or Twitter, or Google+, or Pinterest, or whatever) and can instead consider where in their donor recruitment, engagement, and retention programme the various flavours of Social Media can best be applied. While at the same time considering where they should focus on improving their use of good old email and effective website design.

If I’m right, then we should see a growing number of integrated campaigns drawing together strong fundraising propositions and storytelling through blogs (and promotion through bloggers), with Facebook and Twitter enabling sharing and conversation, well designed transactional pages capturing donations and donor data, and email being used to keep donors informed when there’s a new chapter to the story they’re interested in – rather than ‘single strand’ Twitter or Facebook campaigns. Time will tell…

This is the tenth of twelve posts that I’ll be publishing throughout January on trends I think will prove to be important for digital fundraising in 2012. You can find the previous trend post, on Back to Website Donation Basics, here.


Handy demographics application for Facebook Fundraisers


As use of online social networks continues to grow worldwide, one of the most important questions to ask is how the user profile of different sites differs – to give an indication as to whether the type of consumers you want to engage with are actually spending time there in significant numbers. In particular, fundraisers tend to be watching for growth in older user groups (at least 45+) as these tend to best match with their traditional supporter profile.

With this in mind, I spotted a handy application today that helps answer this question, at least for Facebook users – and with over 150m active users worldwide that’s often the first site considered by marketers and fundraisers. It comes from the ‘unofficial Facebook blog’ AllFacebook and is aptly named Facebook Demographic Statistics.

You simply choose the country and the age group, or groups, you’re interested in (you can compare up to 3) and the site creates a chart showing the number of active Facebook users fitting the chosen profile each day over the last month.

The chart above shows the growth in UK active users in the 60-65 and 55-59 age groups. Perhaps not age profiles typically associated with online social networking, but both apparently showing sustained growth to 157,280 and 187,705 active users respectively by 25th January this year. That’s relatively small beer compared to the 750,199 aged 45-54 and the 2,029,595 aged 35-44 – and certainly to the 6,022,786 aged 18-25. However, it does still show that Facebook is gradually attracting an increasingly mature audience.

Another application offered by AllFacebook that you might be interested in ranks the performance of Facebook Pages – which let users become ‘fans’ of their favourite brands, celebrities, places, or whatever. Facebook Pages have become an important component of social media activity for many commercial and nonprofit brands but until now it hasn’t been possible to easily compare how well your Page is performing. Now you can use the AllFacebook Pages Statistics function to see a ranking of Pages by sector (including nonprofit) number of fans and growth rate.

Top of the nonprofit pages at the moment are The Red Ribbon Army and NPR.

Barack Obama, understandably, tops the Pages polls overall, with 4,641,291 fans. While Coca-Cola comes second with 2,315,954 fans – meaning that Obama is twice as popular as Coke (and better for you too!-)